Published: 20:43, November 27, 2020 | Updated: 09:52, June 5, 2023
Commerce chief: Ocean Park 'rebirth' to lift hard-hit tourism
By He Shusi

This aerial view shows various attractions at Ocean Park in Hong Kong on May 19, 2020. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

HONG KONG - Ocean Park – Hong Kong’s second-largest theme park after Hong Kong Disneyland – could inject a new lease of life into the battered tourism industry by working closely with the government in revitalizing Southern District, said Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah.

Details of the “rebirth” of Ocean Park will be revealed early next year, including ways to expand its area to waters off southern Hong Kong Island, Yau said on Friday.

The Ocean  Park’s new Water World, which will open in summer next year, is the city’s first all-weather water park

Ocean Park, which opened in 1977 and hovered on the brink of collapse as tourist arrivals dwindled, was itself thrown a HK$5.4-billion (US$697-million) lifeline by lawmakers in May to allow it to stay afloat for another year.

Tourism currently accounts for less than 5 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP, but provides jobs for about 7 percent of the local workforce. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in her fourth policy address on Wednesday the government will provide a HK$600-million subsidy to travel agents, tourist guides and escorts, as well as coach drivers, who have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

READ MORE: Ocean Park reopens, after four months' suspension

As part of a series of plans to revive tourism on southern Hong Kong Island and explore new tourist spots, the once iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant, famous for its seafood, will be donated to Ocean Park to help the theme park expand leisure activities on water. 

Yau said the Aberdeen restaurant, which shut down in March amid the pandemic after 44 years in business, wasn’t merely a restaurant. It’s also a unique cultural heritage of Hong Kong. 

While Ocean Park is trying to expand beyond its boundary, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant can help it leverage the area’s cultural, history and scenic beauty, he said. 

The park’s new Water World, which will open in summer next year, is the city’s first all-weather water park. The 6,400-square-meter facility will have a series of terraced platforms and wave pools by the hillside facing the sea.

READ MORE: Hong Kong, Singapore delay planned travel bubble for 2 weeks

As for the “travel bubble” with Singapore that was due to start on Nov 22 but suspended as the fourth wave of COVID-19 struck, Yau said the SAR government remains in close communication with Singapore and hopes to revive the plan when the pandemic is under control.